Reliability, bad reviews, and stuff


I’ve been looking around alot looking for a good host… DreamHost seems really good. The pricing is quite impressive compared to some others.

But also, looking around, many people say that there has been alot of down time. Apparently, it’s been mostly email problems. But seemingly, no matter where I look, there are many bad reviews on it. But also, I realize that DH wouldn’t have this many customers if it was so bad.

And I know that there were some major problems summer of 2006 but they were fixed so I’m basically ignoring those.

So you customers… do you like it here? Is reliability really that bad? Do you recommend it?


You should look around the forums. You’ll find a number of people who are happy with the services. You’ll find a number of people who are unhappy with some aspect or other of the services. You’ll find people who’ve been here for years. You’ll find others who can’t seem to get their credit card approved. You’ll find some who’ve been here only a few weeks before being kicked out.

(This could be a Dr. Seuss book)

I imagine a lot of folks will reply here rehashing what we’ve said here a thousand times: Most of the regulars here are happy - otherwise we wouldn’t be regulars. There are some people who hang out here who are disgruntled with the service and want to make trouble. There are others who are unhappy with the people who hang out here and want to make trouble.

If you don’t like the email service here, try Google Apps. You get personalized domain email with the service, reliability, and spam filtering capability of Gmail.

BTW, yes if you buy a shared plan you have to play nice with the shared resources of the server.

My personal rehash: I’m happy with the service and reliability here. I have very low usage personal sites. I don’t use the email.

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I’ve been hosting here since 1998, and I love it.

I’ve seen reliability be better at times than at other times, as is the case with every host. On the whole, they have been highly reliable for me, both with web service and email.

Generally, the unhappy or dissatisfied users are the most vocal, so with over 500,000 domain hosted, it is not surprising that you see a lot of complaints. That said, the number of unhappy customers could be an extremely small percentage, and still seem like a lot. :wink:

I highly recommend DH, with the following caveats:

It is a shared hosting service, and if your CPU, memory, and number of concurrent connections needs are very high, you are better off with a dedicated server.

If you intend to play fast and loose with ToS or with copyright law, this is not the place to host.

It is an inexpensive host, and support is via email (though you can get “callbacks” on higher plans) - if this won’t work for you it is not a good idea to sign-up anyway and expect something different.

The custom Control Panel, and the shell access, combine to give you a very versatile and powerful platform at very little cost, but it is “not” cpanel - much more powerful but may require a little higher degree of knowledge to use to the fullest extent.

The bottom line, for me, is if your needs are at all appropriate for a shared server, DH is the best value going and I think you are likely to be very, if not ecstatically happy hosting here.



All hosts have problems, so when you’re as huge as Dreamhost, a tiny percentage of unhappy customers can still seem like a lot. But if you take a little reseller with 10 customers, they’ll never have more than 10 complaints, no matter how bad they are.

The other thing to keep in mind is that Dreamhost doesn’t censor the negative reviews here, which isn’t the case in most hosting forums.

Then you have WHT… which anymore, seems to consist mainly of hosts putting down their competitors–especially those that oversell, since they can’t seem to compete with them.

As far as host rating sites go, the top 10 lists usually resemble the top 10 highest paying affiliates at CJ. Somewhere in the DH blog, there’s a post about those sites, where Josh even mentions one that was trying to get them to pay for a recommendation.

I recommend them, as most here would (since we’re active customers)… but you have a 97-day money back period, so you can give them a try and judge for yourself.

:stuck_out_tongue: Save up to $96 at Dreamhost with ALMOST97 promo code (I get $1).
Or save $97 with THEFULL97.


They are relatively cheap and relatively good. Therefore, they are sometimes relatively slow - servers or support. Sites using databases have more problems than simpler sites, but that’s not a complete surprise.

You can read to see their own list of problems over time. Problems are mostly minor, unless they affect your sites.

More customers will only slow down their servers and networks, so I don’t recommend them, and certainly don’t recommend using the promo code below if you go with them despite this advice. :wink:

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I ended up reading the whole ToS because of rlparker. And yeah I understood everything except the section “Limited Liability”.

Yeah basically, that’s what I was thinking too…

So you don’t want me to get this… :stuck_out_tongue:

Define kicked out?

Also, by “playing nice”, what would that mean? What if I wrote some blog post and then some person decided to put it on Digg or some other site?

And thanks for all the replies.


For a blatant copyright violation or some other ToS violation, your account is canceled immediately without refund.

Since this is shared hosting, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (my quote, not DreamHost’s). If your site for whatever reason is bogging the server down (which means lots and lots of people’s sites), DreamHost support will take action. Examples of such actions range from as little as editing robots.txt to as much as shutting the site down temporarily. Some people who’ve had this happen to them have posted here. BTW, mostly only the people who’ve been unhappy with their experiences have posted. The happy ones must have been… off being happy, I guess.

Hey, we’re always looking for someone else to join us for some Kool-Aid.

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Good deal! It always has amazed me that many don 't take the time to read, or make an effort to understand, “the agreement” they enter into when/if they sign up, and I believe it is absolutely important that one understands “the deal”. :slight_smile:

As for exactly what the “Limited Liability” section means, “legal advice” can only be given by a lawyer (and IANAL!). I feel I understand it very well, and if you want my take on what it says “in plain English”, I’ll happily respond as best I can, with the understanding that my comments on that section are “purely my own understanding, not to be construed as legal advice, and worth exactly what you paid for them!” :wink:

As to the other posters’ comments, they should probably respond on their own though I have a couple of thoughts:

To me, that clearly presumes that DreamHost just adds more customers without increasing the number of servers deployed or adjusting their network for growth. The fact they they are still well regarded by many after growing to their present size leads me to believe that will not be the case. As I said before, I’ve seen “growing pains” come, and go, as DreamHost has grown, and I am confident that , “overselling or not”, DreamHost can, and will, add sufficient resources to handle their growth.

While I can’t speak for lensman’s meaning, those I define “kicked out” as those who have had accounts closed or sites suspended for ToS violations such as copyright infringement, spam, and/or running abusive and prohibited services (persistent processes, IRC daemons, servers, etc.). I’m know of other that have had to move to more robust services because the just grew to be too active (concurrent connections, server load, etc.), but I don’t consider those in the “kicked out” category.

In my mind, “Playing nice” means recognizing that other users are sharing your server and taking appropriate steps to prevent your site/processes from monopolizing those shared resources to the detriment of other users.

One good example of “not playing nice” might be attempting to host a heavily trafficked “download” site (linux iso distro site?), heavy video downloading site, free image host, or other operation that needs to consistently serve many many concurrent connections with large downloads or interactivity. Many such sites, by the very nature of their CPU usage and demands on the server, are really only suited for operation on dedicated server (or a rack of them!) :open_mouth: . People that expect to successfully run such sites on a “low-cost” shared host just need to realize that “it’s not likely to work well,” and when/if it starts to impact the other users on the server, the host is going to have to step in and make some change.

The ability to survive/handle a Digg or a /.'ing has a lot to do with how efficiently your site is coded and responding to the huge traffic spikes such activity can produce. A static version of that “Dugg” page, good MySQL optimization, etc. are important. Many DreamHosters have handled both Digg and /. without problem; others have had their sites, and the servers they are on, brought to their knees by such things - it’s all about the code to a great degree! :wink:



No warning of any sort at all? What happens to the data?

I reread the Limited Liability section again… I think I get it.

So basically, playing nice is anything that doesn’t take up too much resources so that other people are happy too. Alright.

So if i one click install like wordpress for example, I’m good, right?

And about SSH… do I get root? I’m guessing not… Dreamhost does install things for me if I need it right? I’m thinking about learning python, but I want a framework. Apparently, to install it (the framework), I need root.


Did the violator give DH any warning that they were going to misuse their account to use their account illegally or in a way that they were specifically forbidden to? Obviously not.

At any rate, if you’re found to have willfully violated your Terms of Service, I don’t think you get access to your account and I don’t think you get any of your data. That shouldn’t be a problem to anyone who follows good procedure and does offsite nightly backups and flosses their teeth, etc.

Even with WordPress, if you install lots of hungry plugins and have lots and lots of traffic, you’ll get in trouble.

Remember, this is shared hosting. Do you want everyone else on your server to have root? :slight_smile:

You do get a user shell account and you can install packages and stuff locally, but not in the system areas. DreamHost staff will not install things for you personally - either globally for the server or specifically for your account. We can vote on additional services that become part of the standard package. BTW, I can’t speak for the services available on their dedicated hosting package.

The following wiki page has quite a bit of information on Python at DreamHost:

DreamHost does officially support Ruby on Rails. Here are some links that might be informative:
Wikipedia article on Ruby on Rails

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I was asking more of what happens if I purposely upload something that I didn’t know was illegal… Or if someone else did (multiple authors, friends, etc.)

Too bad… :stuck_out_tongue: . But of course, no root makes complete sense.

One more thing… what if I decide to leave? (Like in a year or so.) Would DH give me alot of trouble?


This isn’t something that we hear much about on the forums. (which, according to the theory that we hear about all problems here, but few successes, could mean good, sensible treatment)

I think the standard advice applies here. If you do allow user-contributed content, make sure to warn people to only post legal content and make sure to monitor it carefully.

We do hear a lot from folks who’ve given free hosting to their “friend” who has created an illegal content site or otherwise blatantly violated the ToS. This does not go over well, regardless of whether your friend is Bob or “Harvey”. We are held accountable for all sites hosted in our accounts.

Finally, blind content repositories are very high risk and I’d avoid hosting one here.

What do you mean by “a lot of trouble”? I can predict that it won’t be like that Friends episode where Chandler takes Ross to help him quit the gym but where Maria the spandex lady ends up convincing Ross to buy a membership.

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[quote]I think the standard advice applies here. If you do allow user-contributed content, make sure to warn people to only post legal content and make sure to monitor it carefully.

We do hear a lot from folks who’ve given free hosting to their “friend” who has created an illegal content site or otherwise blatantly violated the ToS. This does not go over well, regardless of whether your friend is Bob or “Harvey”. We are held accountable for all sites hosted in our accounts.

Finally, blind content repositories are very high risk and I’d avoid hosting one here.[/quote]
I wonder why people who provide such services, for free or for money, are not somewhat protected by DMCA Free Harbor provisions? Or, what would they have to do to also be protected. Then they would have a notify/response process to go through, instead of sudden cancellation.

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Quoted from the Wikipedia article on theOnline Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act:

[quote]To obtain the safe harbor the OSP must:

  • not have actual knowledge that the material or an activity using the material on the system or network is infringing (512©(1)(A)(1)).
  • not be aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent (512©(1)(A)(2)).
  • upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, must act expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material. (512©(1)(A)(2) and 512©(1)©)
  • not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, in a case in which the service provider has the right and ability to control such activity (512©(1)(B)).
  • have a Designated Agent registered with the US Copyright Office to receive notifications of claimed infringement (often called takedown notices). If the designated agent receives a notification which substantially complies with the notification requirements, the OSP now has actual knowledge and must expeditiously disable access to the work. The OSP must make available to the public through its service, including on its web site substantially this information:
    o the name, address, phone number and electronic mail address of the agent.
    o other contact information which the Register of Copyrights may deem appropriate.
  • adopt, reasonably implement, and inform subscribers and account holders of a policy that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers and account holders of the service provider’s system or network who are repeat infringers (512(i)(1)(A)).
  • accommodate and not interfere with standard technical measures used to identify and protect copyrighted works (512(i)(1)(B)).

The Interim Designation of a Registered Agent is to be filed with the United States Copyright Office and must be accompanied by a $80 fee (effective 7/1/06), payable to the Register of Copyrights [1]. If mailed, the Interim Designation should be addressed to: Copyright GC/I&R, P.O. Box 70400, Southwest Station, Washington, D.C. 20024. An OSP may also file the Interim Designation by hand, by delivering to the Public Information Office of the Copyright Office, Room LM-401, James Madison Memorial Building, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C., during normal business hours, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Designations and amendments are posted online on the Copyright Office website.[/quote]
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So, the main hurdle is $80 and registration. It could be worth it if you’re going to have guests, or allow uploading, comments, wiki contributions, etc.

So, to get this protection, avoiding keeping track of what guests or customers are doing could be better than actively policing them.

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They may be “somewhat protected” under the DMCA for liability under the Copyright Act, though that is not at all clear, and is completely irrelevant to their requirement to comply with a ToS under which they operate a site on another’s service. Any protection for copyright liability they might be construed to enjoy begins (and there are other considerations that also come into play) with the definition of an “online service provider” (OSP). The legal definition, for the purposes of this law, is provided on the U.S. Copyright Office web page regarding online serve providers which says, in relevant part:

" Definition: For purposes of section 512©, a “service provider” is defined as a provider of online services or network access, or the operator of facilities therefor, including an entity offering the transmission, routing, or providing of connections for digital online communications, between or among points specified by a user, of material of the user’s choosing, without modification to the content of the material as sent or received."

The wording of that definition appears to provide some “wiggle room” for what might qualify as an “OSP”, and IANAL, so probably a lawyer’s take on that definition is worth looking at. Elizabeth A. McNamara has something to say on this subject in her article Online Service Provider Liability Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, where she writes:

"… Less obviously, the definition is broad enough to potentially include employers who provide e-mail accounts to their employees, and may even include other entities - including newspapers, magazines, and other media companies - who simply host informational websites. Although this definition may be broad enough to cover these less traditional “service providers”, the definition was not intended to cover all parties who provide content or services online. How broadly this definition will be read, however, depends entirely on the interpretations of the courts."

The bolded emphasis in the above quote is mine, and I think she is “dead on the mark” in her statement; how a court interprets each case will impact who is determined to be an “OSP”, IMO.

That does not necessarily follow at all, irrespective of any DMCA liability protection a hosting customer’s service may be construed to have. DreamHost, or any other webhosting provider, can sever their business relationship with any customer for any reason not precluded by law. Many things that are not “illegal” are still violations of the ToS of many companies, including DreamHost.



Actually, thinking about this a bit, rlparker is right in that all the protection gives you is protection from financial liability and criminal prosecution. You’re not protected from the takedown notice and you’re not protected from another party (DreamHost) from being notified to take your site down. For that matter, DreamHost isn’t protected from their ISP being enjoined from providing services to DreamHost if they don’t expeditiously comply with the notice. It’s all really terrible and makes me feel sick.

I also admit that none of this protects you against any action that DreamHost wants to take against you if you violate their Terms of Service.

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I feel the same way, to tell you the truth. Copyright law in the United States has gotten all out of whack, and has been that way for quite some time, IMO. I’ve even gotten so discouraged about it that I don’t read Lawrence Lessig’s blog as often as I used to. :frowning: .

This whole concept of Intellectual Property needs to be re-thought and, I believe, the concept of corporations as legal entities with the same protection under the law as a “real” person, but without the same responsibilities and with the legal requirement to act in the interests of their shareholder (which is often in direct conflict with what most people consider to be morally acceptable behavior). But that gets to be pretty “off-topic”, so , “Never mind.”

It may not even be a matter of action they “want” to take against you as much as it may be action they judge their their business module necessitates.

It’s got to be a real challenge to host as many sites as they do in the light of this legalistic Copyright/IP environment we now have to deal with. I think they do a great job of it (they seem to be more socially conscience than most other hosts), and their pages make it clear to me that they do not close accounts “lightly”, or even based solely on “complaints”, but rather on the totality of the circumstance.

Thinking along those lines, I believe it is also important not to forget what we pay for a DreamHost account. Certainly a company that charged orders of magnitude more than DreamHost might be able to afford a more lenient attitude about certain ToS issues, and devote more resources toward such things.

Sure, we could preempt the whole “hosting provider” ToS thing by simply hooking our own boxen to the net, though that is not a viable option for those other than the extremely well funded and very technically astute (and then, there would still be “upstream providers” ToS and AUP to deal with!).

Trying to return to the OP’s original question(s), I think that, “warts and all”, DreamHost is a great value and my experience leads me to believe they are likely to treat him fairly, which is how they have always treated me.



Thanks for all your replies. I’m really liking the support forums.

About leaving, yeah you answered my question. I want to be able to leave without DH forbidding me to or hampering me to.

One thing that I didn’t see before. If I get kicked out, can I join again?

I’m just wondering really… I’m honestly not planning on purposely having any copyright violation stuff. Or anything against the ToS.

Again, thanks.


I have no idea, though I suspect that the answer to that may vary depending upon the circumstance, then again, it may not.

While “forever” is certainly “a long, long time”, I’m sure that getting booted in certain situations would leave you unable to sign up for an account in the future. :wink:

Ha ha ha! Well, “I’m honestly not planning” and “purposely having”, and your repeated questions about this, seems to indicate you might be almost expecting “accidentally” running into problems in this area.

Staying out of copyright violation trouble is really not that difficult if you provide original content, don’t “fight the good fight” to “free the music” (and movies), and control what you let others place on a server under your account.

Should you make an “honest mistake” in evaluating, for instance, the status of an image (you reasonably believed it was public domain) or improperly quote too much of something that is later argued to not be an acceptable “fair use”, my reading of leads me to believe that there are likely remedies for those situations short of termination.

If, on the other hand, you plan to allow others to upload to a site/server under your account’s control and you don’t monitor what they place there, or just claim ignorance when warez, “illegal” media files, ROMS, etc. are found on your server space, the typical “excuses” of “I didn’t do it, my “user” did it” (or “friend”, or cat, or dog, etc.) or “I didn’t know it was against the rules” are not likely to hold much weight. :wink: